The comparison is meant to draw attention to Solzhenitsyn's focus on the Gulag itselfthat is the Soviet prison camps, their history, and their victims. There were glimpses of life outside of the camps, but only in their relation to the Gulag system.
"Generations of Winter" deals primarily with life on the outsidehence a good compliment to understanding life in Soviet Russia. The two togetherGulag and "Generations of Winter" give a great picture for the average Russian during a time of great fright and upheaval.
The novel begins a little slowly, but gains steam quickly and by midway through the book it is a fastpaced ride. The book begins in the fall of 1925 and chronicles the generations of the Gradov family through the end of World War II.
There are many surprises along the way, and as one would expect, there are many casualties along the wayas the family is forced to weather Stalin's purges and World War II like all of Russia.
The book has some eccentricities such as short sketches of reincarnated Russians living the lives of animals. The best one is Lenin reincarnated as a rapacious, lusty squirrel. Another favorite scene is of a constipated Stalin.
Many have criticized the book for falling short of the "War and Peace" comparison so many have hoisted upon it. But this truly is a work of genius. That is not to say it is on par with Tolstoy or Solzhenitsyn, but boy, this is a good book. There's nothing wrong with falling short of either of those writers, as they are two of the very best. This is an outstanding work. Described (by the critics) as "the 20th Century equivalent of War and Peace" and with "the emotional grandeur of a new Dr. Zhivago", I would say it rests somewhere between Tolstoy and Pasternak. If you enjoyed either of the aforementioned books, you will enjoy this one as well; if you did not, you will not enjoy this book. I gave it 5 stars. I enjoyed all of it; even the reincarnated animals and talking plants. My only two complaints are that it did not possess the power of the end of War and Peace (there's to be a sequel, or is one, but only in Russian?), and while I sympathize with the Gradov family's plight, it always irritates me that in this time of literature, the horror of the totalitarian state is gone into in great detail, but there is never any sort of statement that these bourgeoistypes are recieving some sort of political/historic "comeuppance" for their centurieslong role under the Czars. Comparisons to War and Peace are apt; this family saga doesn't disappoint. Aksyonov manages to capture historical sweep while still creating truly memorable characters. Deserves a much wider readership, I think.
It is a huge book, and I believe you have to have some desire to learn about what life was like in Russia during this time period. But if you are one of those people it is a very compelling story about the generational gap between the older generation that predated Communism and the younger generation that knew nothing but communism When I lived in Moscow the first time, in the mid1990s, I lived on Syerebyani Bor, Silver Grove in English. It was an area very much like the house where most of this lovely novel take place, endearing the book to me. A sweeping Russian novel that takes a look at the "Gradov" family from the Revolution through WWII. One does not even need an extensive knowledge of Russian history to appreciate the story and learn about the complex characteristics of war and revolution. Technically, "Generations of Winter" is the first two books in a trilogy, "Generations of Winter" and "War and Jail" (which were followed by a third book, "Winter's Hero," published as a separate standalone volume in English). The arc of these first two volumes is the fall of the Gradov family, victims (as most all of Russia was) of Stalinism. The first volume begins shortly after Stalin consolidated his power and covers the initial purges, the second covers the World War II ("The Great Patriotic War"). As works of historical fiction, these books give you a very real sense of what it might have felt like to have the grip of totalitarian repression take hold of your nation and the kind of fear and degradation that comes with it. Of the two volumes, I personally found much less value in the second, as much of it covers the war itself and the combination of the valor of combat with its horrors has already been fairly well documented in my reading life, it all starts to blend together a bit. In general, there is no shortage of horror here, which is entirely the point. The purges, collectivization, the NEP, the NKVD, dekulakization, the gulag, it was all real and eventually it was documented, but to get a chance to see it through the eyes of complex and deeply human characters brings it to life in an additional dimension.
While I did greatly appreciate this volume and am happy to say it's currently available for purchase on Amazon along with "Winter's Hero," it is a shame that these two books remain the only works of Aksyonov's that are easily obtainable in English translation, because they aren't very representative of his works. While it has been almost two decades since I binged all of the Aksyonov that I could get my hands on, the thing I distinctly remember finding so compelling about him was that he was writing works of fantastic magical realism, filled with rebellion and dark humor and formal experimentation but distinctly of his background as a Soviet dissident. "Generations of Winter" is cut from a very different cloth from a book like "The Burn" or "The New Sweet Style," it is very much grounded historical fiction, deliberately written to expose the horrors of Stalinism (which Aksyonov knew quite intimately, as the son of Eugenia Ginzberg), much closer to the tradition of Tolstoy and Pasternak's "Doctor Zhivago" than with the other more wild and woolly samizdat epics he was also known for. I had read "Generations of Winter" in the 90's close to when it came out. Many scenes from this book remained with me. Now I've read it the second time and enjoyed it again. I think its weakness is the use of the "saga format", and its strength is the environment of the story. But I also think it is interesting to think about it in terms of Russian literature generallyalthough I admit I am a little tentative on this front and fear I am being overcreative.
"Generations of Winter" is a saga about a Moscow family in the 20's during the NEP period and in the Stalinist 30's and in World War II. The cast of characters includes people associated with the family by friendship and marriage.
I usually find family sagas difficult. The reason is that so much time must be covered and so much narrative expended and parceled out among individuals. Although the story can be exciting in a cinematic way, the characters lose some depth. I think actually that this is true in a way in GoW. What remains exciting, however, is the ever fascinating ambience of the developing Soviet Union. This provides a new way of regarding character. That is, persons behave in ways that the environment determines in order to survive and no matter what their inner scruples or fears may be. This is where odd, seemingly twodimensional behavior may arisefrom stoicism and fear, the exaltation of some family members along with the arrests of others, the intense loyalty to Russia, and the ambivalent attitude toward Josef Stalin, known to be a thug, but respected as someone beyond the ordinary human categories. When the USSR still existed, this ambivalent attitude in literature towards leadership and communism could be explained as part of authorial survival technique. This is enough to keep one going in this book. Plus Mr. A. is a great storyteller with great momentum.
As to Russian literature, I wonder why there are the echoes of Tolstoy's War and Peace in this book. For example, one character is compared to Natasha Rostov at her first dance; another to the wounded Count Andrei. Another character remarks on the Hitler Russian campaign as paralleling the Napoleonic campaign that sets the scene for much of Tolstoy's book. There is some tactical discussion and thinking, especially by GoW's Nikita Gradov, and enough war description to echo further Tolstoy's lengthy battlefield narratives. One can even see War and Peace as a family saga about the Rostovs and those who come into contact with them.
These echoes of earlier literature are interesting to me. For me, a major gift of Russia to the West are its books and that, indeed, only its books survive as its heritage or locatable cultural identity from the past. For example, the characters in GoW live in such a fastchanging world and their morals have to accomodate to it. (And, probably, Russians had to do this throughout their history.) Perhaps this is the irony of the Gradov family home in the forest: It bridges major upheavals and remains cultured, even hermetically sealed, in an oldfashioned way. It is a place that we would want to live in a Russia imagined out of its literature. The irony is that it seems that way, but is not: one only needs to take the streetcar into town to realize that.
In this respect, the contrast between society in War and Peace and in GoW is very great. In the first book, seemingly autonomous, certainly lively individuals with lives crowded by circumstance act out history. In the other, autonomy is a sham or enjoyed only in retreat, and life circumstances include the enmity and/or indifference and/or whims of, not a government, but a system of control driven to the edges of ideological sanity and victimizing both its heroes and its enemies. In this connection, the literature of the past is totally divorced from the present day and meaningless.
Best EPub, Московская сага: Поколение зимы; Война и тюрьма Author Vasily Aksyonov This Is Very Good And Becomes The Main Topic To Read, The Readers Are Very Takjup And Always Take Inspiration From The Contents Of The Book Московская сага: Поколение зимы; Война и тюрьма, Essay By Vasily Aksyonov. Is Now On Our Website And You Can Download It By Register What Are You Waiting For? Please Read And Make A Refission For You I was assigned to read this book for my Russian history class, and holy cow, it was good. It was one of those books where I felt like I should have buckled my seatbelt because it was a fastpaced, bumpy ride. What do I mean by fastpaced and bumpy?
Well, a lot of things happen over the course of 600 pages. War happens, the political landscape changes, events happen to each member of the family strikingly and horrifyingly. I must say that I was personally terrified by a lot of scenes in the book, insomuch that I was utterly disturbed by the descriptions of life in Russia during the Purges of the government and such.
Where to begin?
The amount of sex and violence in the book is shocking at first, but somewhat laughable on occasion. The description of Cecilia's breasts made me laugh most of the time because the author liked pointing out how HUGE they were. (view spoiler)[Once Nikita and Kirill are both arrested for socalled crimes against the state, the torture endured by both of them is quite upsetting to think about. We mostly get to see Nikita's torture which is especially painful, the poor man. Hint:
he won't be having any more children, that's for sure. (hide spoiler)]